05/23/2021 Turkey (International Christian Concern) – A group of four NGOs submitted a report to the Human Rights Committee outlining the persecution against Protestant Christians in Turkey, specifically the impact of the restrictions of foreign Christians.
Turkey violates its own constitution as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Turkey adopted in 2003. Freedom of religion is restricted, particularly as it pertains to minority communities. When Turkey adopted the ICCPR, it did so with reservation to article 27 that protects minorities saying, “The Republic of Turkey reserves the right to interpret and apply the provisions of Article 27 of the ICCPR in accordance with the related provisions and rules of the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey and the Treaty of Lausanne of 24 July 1923 and its Appendixes.” Under this, Protestant Christians face persecution.
Foreign Protestant Christians living in Turkey face legal status issues and have increasingly faced deportation and travel restrictions. Specifically, Protestant Christians have received an N-82 code that keeps them from continuing their missionary and outreach efforts. Domestic courts have yet to overturn these code allocations.
Christians also face hostility through education, media and society. Turkey maintains that there is no hate speech against Turkish Armenians, despite Turkish President Erodgan’s own rhetoric. The report to the Human Rights Committee also lists incidents where Turkish intelligence agents attempt to recruit Christians to act as informants for individuals and churches. Churches also faced discrimination amidst COVID-19 restrictions, where mosques were given exceptions for worship gatherings and churches were not allowed to gather due to weekend lockdowns. Collectively, these and other avenues of persecution and discrimination violate the ICCPR articles 12, 13, 14, 23 and 26.
The report concludes with questions regarding what measures are being taken to hold Turkey to the standards outlined in the ICCPR and international guidelines regarding religious freedom, legal rights of churches and individuals, and general discriminatory practices and attitudes towards Christians.
The submitted report also references ICC and Middle East Concern’s joint report on Turkey, which outlines the impact on the local Christian population. The joint report on the status of Christians in Turkey concludes the deportation section saying, “the forced expulsion of Christians from Turkey is certainly not a new phenomenon. The similarities with the 20th century expulsion of Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians is disturbing. It shows that these attitudes remain embodied in the Turkish state apparatus to the extent that the Interior Ministry can label expatriate pastors, evangelists, and ordinary church members as security threats, and enforce their deportation in violation of their human rights.”